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Coercion vs. Freedom:
Baby Boomers Likely to Challenge Medicare Rules

January 14, 2004

With the expansion of taxpayer-financed health care in the United States, citizens are inevitably losing their freedom and are being coerced into programs they'd rather not join. Medicare is a prime example. Currently, a woman from the New England area is refusing to accept her "entitlement" to Medicare Part A. Her penalty for declining to enroll? The federal government is withholding the Social Security benefits that she would otherwise receive.

It's not clear whether this policy is legal, and we won't know until it is challenged in court. But one thing is certain: Future seniors are going to be much more demanding and won't accept many of the existing coercive policies that Medicare currently creates and enforces.

Health-Care Futurist Says Baby Boomers Will Be Best-Informed Group of Consumers

In fact, health-care futurist Russell Coile, Jr., points out that "This [Baby Boomer] cohort is just starting to reach the age of experiencing health issues, but it will be the number-one consumer driver of healthcare for the next 30 years. We're talking about 78 million people concentrated in a 20-year time span. This will be the fussiest, best-informed group of consumers that healthcare has ever known—and probably more demanding."

Largest Study of Patient Satisfaction

In a study of nearly 2 million patient surveys—the largest study of patient satisfaction ever conducted—Press Ganey Associates reported in August 2003: "Patient age is a good predictor of overall satisfaction, which generally increases with age but declines for the oldest patients, those over 80. The only exception to this rule—but a very significant one—is the 35 to 49 year old age group, which includes the Baby Boom generation (Americans born between 1946 and 1964). This group, as a whole, is less satisfied than patients in the adjacent age groups. Members of the Baby Boom generation have been described as distrustful of institutions, more informed than others, and harder to please because of their high expectations..This generation is aging. In the coming years, its members will inevitably constitute more of the hospitalized population, making for increased demands for high quality health care (It is also possible that the decline in satisfaction expressed by the oldest group is a consequence of Baby Boomers' influence over their parents, encouraging the latter to be more critical of their care)."

Patients Want More Information about Treatment Decisions

The Press Ganey satisfaction report also noted: "Patients expressed desires to have their personal circumstances and special needs taken into account during the course of care. They want information as well as some say about treatment decisions. This is a far cry from acceptance of the old, paternalistic 'Doctor knows best' attitude that pervaded American medical practice as recently as 25 years ago."

Some Results from the Largest Study of Patient Satisfaction: Ten Issues Most Highly Correlated with Likelihood of Recommending a Hospital

  • How well staff worked together to care for you.
  • Overall cheerfulness of the hospital.
  • Response to concerns/complaints made during your stay.
  • Amount of attention paid to your special or personal needs.
  • Staff sensitivity to the inconvenience that health problems and hospitalization can cause.
  • How well the nurses kept you informed.
  • Staff effort to include you in decisions about your treatment.
  • Nurses' attitude toward your requests.
  • Skill of the nurses.
  • Friendliness/courtesy of the nurses.
Survey was based on 1,759,472 questionnaires from 1,137 hospitals. Source: "Largest Study of Patient Satisfaction Ever Conducted," by Robert J. Wolosin, Ph.D., Press Ganey Associates, August 2003.

This article was originally published in the November/December 2003 issue of Health Freedom Watch.